Art News

NEA Grant Helps Motus Theater Spread the Stories of Incarcerated People

Motus Theater recently fulfilled its $40,000 matching grant.
Motus Theater recently fulfilled its $40,000 matching grant. Rick Villarreal
In late April, Boulder’s Motus Theater — which produces socially engaged monologue projects interrogating the American carceral system, immigration and racism — announced that it had received a $40,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the project JustUs: Stories From the Frontlines of the Criminal Justice System.

JustUs is a monologue series in which Motus guides community leaders who have been affected by the carceral system in crafting and performing autobiographical narratives that shed light on the impact of the criminal legal system on people’s lives.

In order to get the matching grant, Motus was required to raise an equivalent amount. Thanks to the support of philanthropist Margery Goldman, Motus started its fundraising campaign with $10,000 toward unlocking the matching grant. In late June, Motus announced that the $40,000 grant for the JustUs project had been fully matched.

Artistic director Kirsten Wilson said in a statement that community support, combined with the National Endowment for the Arts grant, will allow Motus to bring to the stage "the voices of people impacted by the criminal legal system, with healing music from amazing singers, so we are inspired to come together to work towards true justice."

Motus additionally announced that it would use some of the grant money to invite 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason to read Community Works Vice President Juaquin Mobley’s monologue. That event will take place on Thursday, July 15, at 6 p.m.

“As a leader within the criminal justice system, I strive to see it through the eyes of others. The stories of the Motus JustUs project should serve as a guide for individuals in my position,” Mason says. "For those of us who wish to improve upon the current system, we must embrace the experiences of others — positive and negative — in pursuit of a fair and equitable criminal justice system for all."

Mobley’s monologue explores how the lack of opportunity he experienced in youth contributed to his fifteen-year prison sentence. Mobley now serves as the vice president of Community Works, which helps those who suffer from barriers to employment — especially those who have been incarcerated or otherwise affected by the criminal legal system — seek job placement. He spearheaded the expansion of Community Works’ services to Colorado Springs, and is proud of the low recidivism rate for those who go through the program.

The next virtual JustUs event is 6 p.m. Thursday, July 15; to attend, RSVP here.
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Jasmine Liu writes about arts and music for Westword, where she is currently a reporting intern.
Contact: Jasmine Liu